'Star Wars' hotel, Epcot upgrades coming to Disney theme parks

ANAHEIM, Calif., July 15 (Reuters) - An immersive "Star Wars" hotel, a new "Ratatouille" attraction and the first ever Mickey Mouse ride are just some of the high-profile features coming soon to Walt Disney Co's theme parks revealed on Saturday.

Walt Disney World Resort in Florida will house the hotel where guests can live out a multi-day adventure within the intergalactic universe of the "Star Wars" film franchise, parks and resorts Chairman Bob Chapek told attendees gathered at Disney's annual D23 fan convention in Southern California.

Two new "Star Wars" themed lands coming to Disneyland in Anaheim, California and Orlando, Florida, will be called "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge," he said.

Famous faces you missed in Star Wars

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23 actors you may have missed in 'Star Wars'
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23 actors you may have missed in 'Star Wars'

Daniel Craig (“The Force Awakens”)
It was something of a news item at the time, but James Bond slipped in a secret cameo in the first “Star Wars” film in a decade — as a stormtrooper. He’s the guard that Rei manages to Jedi mind trick into releasing her.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm 

Rose Byrne (“Attack of the Clones”)
Before she was a mainstay of the “Insidious” movies alongside Patrick Wilson or had joined the “X-Men” franchise as CIA Agent Moira MacTaggert, Rose Byrne was one of the handmaidens serving Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) in the “Star Wars” prequels. Specifically, she was Dormé, who accompanied Padmé to Coruscant to do government things.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm 

Bill Hader and Ben Schwartz (“The Force Awakens”)
You’d think the last thing a droid like BB-8 would require is a voice, given that he’s a robot and speaks in bleeps and bloops. But to get the sound and personality just right, director J.J. Abrams enlisted comedians Bill Hader (formerly of “SNL”) and Ben Schwartz (well-known for playing Jean-Ralphio on “Parks and Rec”).

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

Keira Knightley (“The Phantom Menace”)Keira Knightley (“The Phantom Menace”)
Knightley wasn’t just any handmaiden in “The Phantom Menace” — she was the handmaiden. Serving as the decoy for the real queen, Knightley was the actress people thought was Amidala for half the movie, before Natalie Portman’s Padmé revealed her true identity.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

Thomas Brodie-Sangster (“The Force Awakens”)
“Game of Thrones” might have noticed a familiar First Order officer during shots of the bridge of the Starkiller Base. It was Jojen Reed, Bran Stark’s loyal friend, who also plays Newt in the “Maze Runner” franchise.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilms

Sally Hawkins ("The Phantom Menace")
Before she was an Academy Award-nominated actress for her role in "Blue Jasmine," Sally Hawkins was an extra in the giant celebration scene in "The Phantom Menace." She admitted in an interview with Conan O'Brien that she'd never actually seen the movie, despite being in it.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

Joel Edgerton (“Attack of the Clones,” “Revenge of the Sith”)
Luke’s moisture-farming, humorless uncle Owen Lars was young once, but he was never not a guy who stood around a crappy homestead on Tatooine. In the prequel movies, the role was picked up by Joel Edgerton of “Loving” and “The Great Gatsby.”

Photo Credit: Lucasfilms

Keisha Castle-Hughes ("Revenge of the Sith")
Sometime after Padmé's term as queen had ended by "Revenge of the Sith," the wise people of Naboo apparently elected another teenager queen: Queen Apailana, played by Keisha Castle-Hughes. Apailana is seen at Padmé's funeral, and Castle-Hughes is known for "The Whale Rider" and appearing on "The Walking Dead."

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

Dominic West ("The Phantom Menace")
The prequel trilogy was filled with actors who would go on to do great things, but who were mostly filling small or background roles in the "Star Wars" universe. Dominic West's character in "The Phantom Menace" was an otherwise nondescript member of Queen Amidala's palace guard -- nothing so interesting as his later turn as Jimmy McNulty on HBO's "The Wire."

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm 

Simon Pegg (“The Force Awakens”)

Another secret cameo, Pegg is covered in alien costume work as the junk dealer Unkar Plutt on Jakku. He’s the guy who gives Rei less than what her salvage is probably worth.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

Billie Lourd (“The Force Awakens”)

Billie Lourd sneaked into Lucasfilm’s revival of “Star Wars” as Lt. Connix, one of the Resistance fighters running tactical machinery in the base of General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). Known for her hilarious turn as Chanel No. 3 on the horror-comedy series “Scream Queens,” she’s also Fisher’s daughter.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm 

John Ratzenberger ("The Empire Strikes Back")

Ratzenberger is best remembered as know-it-all postman Cliff Clavin from "Cheers," or maybe his numerous voice roles in Pixar movies. In "The Empire Strikes Back," Ratzenberger is one of the Rebel officers hanging around Echo Base on Hoth with Princess Leia and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels).

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm 


Tony Cox ("Return of the Jedi")

In an Ewok suit, you'd never know Tony Cox appeared in "Return of the Jedi." He wouldn't really show off his acting chops until later when he was stealing scenes all over comedies like "Bad Santa," where he was Billy Bob Thornton's much-smarter mall-robbing accomplice/Christmas elf, and "Me, Myself and Irene."

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm 


 

Julian Glover ("The Empire Strikes Back")
Julian Glover's General Veers is probably the most competent officer available to Darth Vader as wanders the galaxy looking for the Rebels and Luke Skywalker. He'd be decidedly less competent as Grand Maester Pycelle on "Game of Thrones," but decidedly more evil as Nazi collaborator Walter Donovan in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (you know -- the guy who ages super fast after drinking from the wrong grail).

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm 

Richard Armitage ("The Phantom Menace")
Blink and you'd miss Richard Armitage's small background role (second from the right in the background) among the guards on Naboo. Although, it's tough to recognize him without the lustrous locks Armitage sported in "The Hobbit" as Thorin Oakenshield, or the creepy teeth from his turn as killer Francis Dolarhyde in "Hannibal" Season 3 on NBC.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm 

Sofia Coppola (“The Phantom Menace”)
There really were a mess of these handmaidens. Before she was a full-time director, Sofia Coppola picked up a few small acting gigs, including the handmaiden Saché in “The Phantom Menace.” Just a few years after the 1999 movie, in 2003, Coppola would pick up a Best Director Academy Award nomination for “Lost in Translation.”

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm 


 Deep Roy ("Return of the Jedi")

It's easiest to remember Deep Roy in the Johnny Depp-starring "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," since Roy played every orange oompa-loompa in that movie. In "Return of the Jedi," he was both an Ewok and the puffy alien band member Droopy McCool in Jabba's Palace. Deep Roy also worked on "The Empire Strikes Back," acting as a stand-in for the muppet Yoda.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilms 

Bai Ling ("Revenge of the Sith")

Bai Ling actually doesn't appear in "Revenge of the Sith," but she was supposed to. Her scene as Senator Bana Breemu was cut from the film. But there are things you definitely have seen her in, including "Crank: High Voltage," "The Crow" and "Entourage."

Photot Credit: Lucasfilm

Peter Serafinowicz ("The Phantom Menace")

Marvel Cinematic Universe fans will recognize Peter Seafinowicz for his turn as untrusting Nova Corps officer Garthan Saal in "Guardians of the Galaxy." He didn't appear in "The Phantom Menace," but provided the gravely, frightening voice of Darth Maul (the rest of whom was played by Ray Park), as well as for a gungan warrior and a battle droid.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm 

Peter Serafinowicz ("The Phantom Menace")

Marvel Cinematic Universe fans will recognize Peter Seafinowicz for his turn as untrusting Nova Corps officer Garthan Saal in "Guardians of the Galaxy." He didn't appear in "The Phantom Menace," but provided the gravely, frightening voice of Darth Maul (the rest of whom was played by Ray Park), as well as for a gungan warrior and a battle droid.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm


 Treat Williams ("The Empire Strikes Back")

When you're Treat Williams, you can wander onto the set of "The Empire Strikes Back" and find yourself in the movie. Williams reportedly dropped by England's Elstree Studios set, where the movie was being filmed, to visit Carrie Fisher. Apparently one thing led to another, and now Williams plays one of the Rebel troops running around Echo Base on Hoth.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilms 

Martin Csokas ("Attack of the Clones")

The "Star Wars" movies have slipped a few notable actors into the voice roles of aliens. Martin Csokas is one -- he provided the voice of the Geonosian alien Poggle the Lesser in "Attack of the Clones." Fantasy fans probably know him better as the elf Celeborn, husband to Cate Blanchett's Galadriel in "The Lord of the Rings."

For more features and deep dives into the world of "Star Wars" and the culture surrounding it, be sure to check out IMDb's "Star Wars" hub.

Photo Creidt: Lucasfilm 

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A model concept of the expansive new lands was unveiled on Thursday, showing pavilions set in rough, rocky terrain and uneven buildings that will house attractions. The lands will include a Millennium Falcon ride.

Disney plans to open a "Star Wars" land first in its California park and then in Florida in 2019. At 14 acres each, they will be the largest-ever single-themed land expansions, Disney said.

Theme parks, Disney's second-largest division, posted $1.9 billion in operating income for the six months ended April 1, according to its latest earnings report.

Disney has been investing in new attractions at its U.S. theme parks as it faces competition from Comcast Corp's Universal Studios.

RELATED Star Wars props

20 PHOTOS
Making 'Star Wars' props
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Making 'Star Wars' props
A worker holds a replica of Darth Vader's melted helmet from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A technician holds a replica of Kylo Ren's Lightsaber hilt from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A technician adds finishing touches to a replica of Kylo Ren's helmet from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A technician adds finishing touches to a replica of Chewbacca's Bowcaster from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A technician works on Kylo Ren's Lightsaber hilt from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A worker holds a replica of Poe Dameron's helmet from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Images of Poe Dameron's helmet from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", are displayed on a computer screen in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A technician laser-scans a replica of Poe Dameron's helmet from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A technician at "Propshop" adds finishing touches to a replica of Darth Vader's melted helmet from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A worker holds a replica of Finn's Stormtrooper helmet from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Replica parts of Poe Dameron's helmet from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", are seen in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A member of the Digital team works on the design of Finn's Stormtrooper helmet from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A technician holds a replica of Ray's Lightsaber hilt from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A technician adds finishing touches to a replica of Kylo Ren's helmet from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A worker holds a replica of Kylo Ren's helmet from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A member of the digital team works on Darth Vader's melted helmet from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Jet Cooper works on Kylo Ren's Lightsaber hilt from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A technician at "Propshop" adds finishing touches to a replica of Darth Vader's melted helmet from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A worker looks at replicas of Kylo Ren's helmet, Finn's Stormtrooper helmet and Poe Dameron's helmet from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in the Propshop headquarters at Pinewood Studios near London, Britain May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
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In May, Disney opened a land based on the movie "Avatar" at the Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Florida, and a ride based on Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" at California Adventure in Anaheim.

Ahead of Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary in 2021, Chapek announced new upgrades to Disney's futuristic Epcot park in Florida that will include a new "Guardians of the Galaxy" attraction and a "Ratatouille" ride, based on the popular one at Disneyland Paris. A new theme restaurant will offer views of outer space.

Florida's Walt Disney World will introduce the first-ever ride starring company mascot, Mickey Mouse. "Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railroad" will allow guests to enter an animated adventure with the characters.

Stars were almost cast in Disney movies

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Stars Who Turned Down Disney Roles
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Stars Who Turned Down Disney Roles
Reese Witherspoon had agreed to voice Merida in Disney's "Brave" -- but there was one key issue. According to Reese herself, she had trouble mastering the character's Scottish accent: "I tried to do a Scottish accent once. It was bad. I had to quit the movie."
Before agreeing to play Belle in "Beauty and the Beast," Emma Watson turned down the opportunity to play Cinderella in the live-action remake: "When they offered me Belle, I just felt the character resonated with me so much more than Cinderella did," she said.
Is your favorite Disney Channel film "Hocus Pocus"? Well, the classic DCOM almost looked much more handsome: Leo was approached to play the role of Max, offering him "more money than I ever dreamed of," but he walked away. "I don't know where I got the nerve," he later said.
"Hannah Montana" without Miley Cyrus? It almost happened! Singer JoJo was offered the lead role by Disney executives, but she turned it down, later revealing she had "no regrets at all" about rejecting the opportunity.
Warren Beatty was offered the part of Iago, villain Jafar's saucy parrot sidekick in "Aladdin." After he turned it down, Gilbert Gottfried landed the role -- although he first had to beat out Joe Pesci and Danny DeVito, he revealed.
Annnd sometimes you kick yourself later. Billy Crystal has said that turning down a role in "Toy Story" during its early development stage is "one of the only regrets I have in the business of something I passed on." He later took the lead role of Mike Wazowski in "Monsters, Inc."
In 2015, Variety officially announced that Moretz would play Ariel in Disney's live-action "The Little Mermaid." However, a year later, Moretz announced that she had pulled the plug not only on that film, but also on all others she was committed to. "I want to reassess who I am and find myself within my roles again," she explained.
Elle Fanning also turned down Disney's offer to star in "The Little Mermaid." She did, however, agree to play Aurora in "Malficent."
Michael Shannon was reportedly approached to do a major Disney blockbuster, but he wasn't interested at all. Although he wouldn't confirm the film, he gave this cryptic explanation: "They called me recently about some iteration -- I won't say -- but some version of a movie that's been made already countless times. They were gonna give me a lot of money, but I was like, nah. Big movie, too. But I have to think it's an interesting story. If I don't, I can't do it."
The director of "Monsters, Inc," Pete Docter, was dying to slate Bill Murray as monster Sulley alongside Billy Crystal. But after doing a screen read for the part, Murray refused to answer the phone when the director repeatedly called. "We took that to mean no," Docter said.
No thanks! Although she hit it big on Disney Channel's "Wizards of Waverly Place," Gomez declined the leading role in its hit movie-musical "Camp Rock." She also turned down a part in "High School Musical 3: Senior Year."
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A high-speed "Tron" ride is coming to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, the world's most popular theme park with about 20.4 million visitors in 2016, according to the Themed Entertainment Association.

Chapek also said a new "Pixar Pier" attraction would replace "Paradise Pier" at Disney's California Adventure, a new home for Pixar's animated characters.

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